The Week Ahead: Senate to Consider Bill to Implement U.S.-Mexico Agreement Over Oil and Gas Development


The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing Oct. 1 to consider a bill that would implement an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico to allow for the development of oil and gas reservoirs that cross the international maritime boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Mexico (S. 812).

On June 27, the House passed a companion billThe Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act (H.R. 1613).

As detailed in an April 18 Energy and Climate Report article, the agreement was signed in 2012 by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa Castellano at the G-20 summit in Los Cabos. The agreement lifted a moratorium on drilling along a section of the boundary and provides a framework for the safe management of transboundary hydrocarbons along the whole maritime border.

According to supporters of the bill, which would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the measure would provide the legal certainty needed for greater energy exploration and development. 

House Subcommittee to Discuss Draft Energy Infrastructure Bill

In the House, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a discussion Oct. 2 on a draft of the "North American Energy Infrastructure Act."

The draft was unveiled Sept. 25 by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas).

According to a committee press release, the draft bill would consolidate and modernize the cross-boundary permitting process for oil and natural gas pipelines and electric transmission lines, replacing the current patchwork of permit processes created through executive orders. The draft bill would cover the import or export of oil, gas or electricity to or from the U.S, Canada and Mexico.

Wind Production Tax Credit to Be Subject of House Oversight Hearing

Also on Oct. 2, the future and cost of the wind production tax credit will be the subject of a hearing by the House Oversight & Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy and Policy.

As covered in a Sept. 25 article, the 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour tax credit is scheduled to expire Dec. 31, though proponents are seeking a continuation.

Senate Committee to Hold Hearing on Adaptation

On Oct. 2, the Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on "Natural Resources Adaptation: Protecting Ecosystems and Economies."

FERC to Hold Hydropower Licensing Workshop

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold a workshop Oct. 2 to begin investigating the feasibility of a two-year process for the issuance of a license for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects in compliance with the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (P. L. 113-23)

As detailed in an Aug. 9 article, President Barack Obama signed the act to ease FERC's licensing requirements for small-scale hydroelectric projects that are considered to have a low impact on the environment. 

California Energy Commission to Hold Workshop

On Oct. 1, the California Energy Commission will hold a workshop on revised electricity and natural gas demand forecasts for 2014 through 2024.

Staff members will present their 10-year baseline forecasts of electricity consumption, peak demand and end-use natural gas consumption. Energy efficiency scenarios that could lower consumption forecasts also will be discussed.

ICAO Assembly Meeting to Wrap Up

The International Civil Aviation Organization's 38th Assembly Meeting Sept. 24-Oct. 4 in Montreal is expected to include approval of a climate change resolution that could address next steps on potential market based measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector.

As detailed in a Sept. 23 article, the European Union earlier this year formally agreed to temporarily delay a plan to expand its Emissions Trading System to cover the full distance of flights arriving in and taking off from Europe after running into strong resistance from the U.S., China and Russia.

Other Energy, Climate Events

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy is scheduled to give the keynote address Oct. 3 at the Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy Conference in Washington. The conference, sponsored by the Atlantic Council and the Ecologic Institute, will cover "Transatlantic Cooperation on Energy Security and Climate Change."  

On Sept. 30, the Environmental Law Institute will hold an event in Washington on "President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan in the Near Term: Expectations, Concerns and Opportunities."

Speakers include Elliot Diringer, executive vice president at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions; Jennifer A. Smokelin, an attorney with Reed Smith LLP; and Dan Utech, deputy director for energy and climate change for the White House Domestic Policy Council.

The third annual Carbon Forum North Americawill be held Oct. 1-2 in Washington. Speakers include Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to President Obama for Energy and Climate Change; Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Air and Radiation; Rep. Paul Tonko (D.-N.Y); and Nicole Singh, executive director for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.